How do we love our neighbor well when ‘social distancing’ is the best thing we can do in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19? How can we practically, sacrificially and unconditionally love our neighbor in the midst of this global pandemic?
These are crucial questions that every Christ-follower must ask themselves today. Our natural tendency in times like this is to self-protect, but the command from Jesus is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
It appears that the most loving thing that we can do for our neighbor is to stay away, keep our distance, especially from those who might be most susceptible to COVID-19. To ignore the recommendations being made by CDC, the World Health Organization along with local health authorities would be both unwise and unloving.
Here are a few ways that GENESIS and the many men and women that call GENESIS home can love our neighbors well:
1. Identify who your neighbor is.
For many of us, the problem with loving our neighbor is not that we don’t want to, but that we have no idea who they are. Obviously, if we don’t know our neighbor, it will be very difficult to meet their needs. Whether you live in an apartment complex or own a home in the city or suburbs, we all have neighbors that live close by. Neighboring is not limited to who we live next to, but identifying those people is a great starting point.
2. Identify the needs of your neighbor.
In order to honor ‘social distancing’ recommendations, entering into your neighbors’ home is off limits (for now), but that does not mean you have to avoid communicating with them altogether. Send them a text, email or put a note in their mailbox (please use gloves!). There are many ways you can reach out to your neighbor to ask them a simple question - ‘How can I best serve you in this season?’ Maybe they don’t need anything, and that’s okay! The point is to let them know that you are available and desirous to serve them if the need arises. Whether they ask for it or not, let them know that you will be praying for them…and once you tell them that, do not neglect to actually pray!
3. Identify next steps.
The needs of your neighbors will largely determine your next steps, but it’s so important to avoid over-promising and under-delivering. That would be unloving. If they need groceries, make sure you follow through on meeting that need in the most sanitary way possible. The needs will differ for each of us but the point is simple – deliver upon the needs that become known as much as you can. And be generous! Surprise them by seeking to go above and beyond.
4. Identify how you can love your neighborhood.
GENESIS gathers in Woburn so we are going to do the best we can to fully stock our local food pantry. That being said, GENESIS is a regional church. We have 44 different towns and cities represented by our community. If you live in Gloucester or Swampscott or Marblehead or Natick or Medford or Billerica or Lowell (just to name a few), please reach out to your local town to see how you might love them well. If you live in or around Woburn, please feel free to support the local food pantry with us.
If you feel more comfortable supporting the food pantry through a financial gift, you can do that HERE. Select the ‘Food Pantry Program’ from the drop-down menu.
We believe that people will experience God’s great love for them by the way we love them, so let’s love our neighbors well in this season. And when your neighbor asks you, ‘Why are you loving me like this?,’ your answer can simply be, ‘Because this is how God has loved me in Christ.’
April 09, 2020